Nicotine Can Fuel Breast Cancer, Study
TUESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Nicotine may directly
promote the development of breast cancer by binding to a certain
cell receptor, says a new study.
Many chemicals in tobacco are believed to be carcinogens but
little is known about how nicotine might contribute to cancer cell
growth. What is known is that when nicotine binds to the nicotinic
acetylcholine receptor (nAChR), it promotes smoking addiction.
In this study, Taiwanese researchers analyzed 276 breast tumor
samples to determine whether subunits of nAChR were overproduced in
breast cancer cells compared with surrounding normal cells.
The researchers found that breast cancer cells consistently
overproduced the alpha 9 subunit of nAChR (a9-nAChR) and that
production of this subunit was higher in advanced-stage breast
cancer than in early-stage cancer. They then conducted laboratory
tests that showed reducing levels of a9-nAChR inhibited tumor
growth, while increasing levels of the subunit or treating more
normal breast cells with nicotine led to the development of cancer
"These results imply that receptor-mediated carcinogenic signals play a decisive role in biological functions related to human breast cancer development," concluded Yuan-Soon Ho, of the Taipei Medical University, and colleagues in a news release from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which published the study online Aug. 23.
The American Cancer Society has more about
the causes of breast cancer.
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